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Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

If you have a horrible toothache and discovered that you need root canal treatment, you might wonder if it’s painful. You’ll be relieved to know that there is no root canal treatment pain most of the time. It’s a painless procedure performed by dentists or dental specialists (endodontists) regularly under local anesthetic. It’s no more painful than a traditional cavity fill, and many people experience no pain after root canal treatment. It’s a lot less uncomfortable than the pain you experience during a tooth infection — which is often the precursor to a root canal treatment.

Let’s explore what a root canal treatment is, why you may need one, and how it’s performed without causing root canal treatment pain.

What Is a Root Canal?

The inside of your tooth contains multiple structures. Under the enamel — which is the outermost layer of your tooth — is the dentin, followed by the pulp. The pulp contains tissue, nerves and, blood vessels. The pulp runs deep inside the crown of the tooth and extends through the roots of your teeth via a single fine canal or multiple fine canals depending on the tooth. Your front tooth has one root canal, and the molars contain three or four root canals.

Root canal treatment allows you to keep your natural tooth and saves your surrounding teeth from damage caused by infection. If the pulp is infected and beyond the scope of a simple filling, a licensed dentist or dental specialist (endodontist) performs a root canal treatment by removing the infected pulp and cleaning the root canal system of the tooth which is laden with bacteria due to the infected pulp.

During a root canal treatment:

  • The dentist administers a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area, reducing the risk of root canal treatment pain.
  • Once your tooth is numb, the dentist places a rubber dam around your infected tooth to protect it from saliva and further bacteria that naturally live in your mouth.
  • Next, a cavity through the middle of the tooth is created in order to reach the pulp.
  • Once at the pulp, the entire structure is removed. Then, the empty cavity and the canals are disinfected.
  • The dentist reshapes the canals so that they’re smooth and tunnel-like. Then a material called gutta-percha is placed in the root canals, and the entire cavity is filled and sealed.
  • Lastly, the crown —  the bite side of your tooth — is repaired and filled or replaced.

There is no pain after root canal treatment, but you may feel discomfort. it could take several appointments to have a root canal treatment. If this is the case for you, the dentist fills your tooth with a temporary filling until the next visit.

When Is a Root Canal Treatment Necessary?

 Root canal treatment is necessary if you have a tooth infection.  This is most commonly caused by dental decay reaching the pulp, but can also be caused by severe tooth injury or a crack in the tooth reaching the pulp. Dental decay begins as a small white spot and progresses slowly to form a pit with discolouration. This is called a cavity. If not treated, it continues to spread through the remaining layers of your teeth. When it finally reaches the pulp, the pulp will become infected. 

Following proper dental hygiene and recommendations reduce your risk of getting decay and hence possibly needing root canal treatment. Having regular check-ups with your dentist will also help. Diagnosing the dental decay when it is small means you will have a simple filling that fixes the problem before it reaches the pulp and prevents you from needing root canal treatment. 

If you don’t have root canal treatment on an infected tooth, the infection could spread to your jaw bone and then into your bloodstream, leading to more severe pain, and tooth loss and can make you very sick. Root canal treatment is often the first approach to remedy an infected pulp if you wish to save the tooth. The other option is to remove the tooth if you don’t wish to have root canal treatment. There is no root canal treatment pain or pain after root canal treatment.

Does Root Canal Treatment Make You Ill?

A root canal treatment will not make you sick. The dentist performs this procedure safely in a sterile environment. The clinic sterilizes each tool, and the dentist wears clean gloves throughout the procedure. 

It is very uncommon to have a rebound infection after a root canal treatment. In addition, there isn’t any pain after root canal treatment.


A root canal treatment is safe, effective, and most importantly — there is no root canal treatment pain most of the time. If you have a tooth infection, throbbing pain, or sensitivity, you may need root canal treatment. 

Are you experiencing persistent toothache or sensitivity? Relieve your pain by scheduling an appointment with our skilled dentists at The Dental Family Beaumaris! 

The Dental Family Beaumaris